Monday, 27 April 2015

Create beautiful graphics with Canva

Thinking ahead for our Learning and Teaching Conference at SOAS, I thought what better to advertise the event than an eye catching poster? So I set off searching the Internet for a suitable alternative to Photoshop that was simple and easy to use. I came across Canva which helps you to create beautiful posters, presentations, cards, Facebook covers, photo collage and much more.
No longer do you need to be a master at Photoshop, Canva provides you with more than one million layouts, stock photographs and illustrations to choose from when creating your graphic.
Canva aims for simplicity and it certainly does this effectively with the use of drag and drop to create designs.
Canva offers hundreds of free elements and fonts for you to use in your design creation or alternatively you can also choose to pay for premium content which includes a library of more than 1 million images. There is no need to use the existing images on offer from Canva as you are free to upload your own photos or graphics.
Users can create designs individually or collaboratively with others on designs that can then easily be published to social media, blogs or websites.

1. Create Canva account
Navigate to to signup however if you have a Facebook or Google+ account then you can speed up the process by using the dedicated buttons:

When you have created your accounted and logged into Canva you will be presented with the homepage where you can select what type of design you wish to create. For this blog I have selected the poster design.

2. Set your layout
Once you have selected what design you want to create a graphic for, you will be presented with the Canva editor page:

Start off by selecting the type the layout of your poster from the numerous templates simply click on the tile which will then appear on the right hand side ready for you to edit the template. You can either insert your images, alter the layout or add your own text, alternatively you can create your own poster from a blank template.

3. Select your background
After selecting the layout click on the background option to set your background colour or image. The background colour can be set either by clicking the coloured circles or from one of the background templates from the list.

Remember you are not restricted to the coloured circles as you can create any colour by clicking in the circle with the plus sign then selecting the colour from the colour wheel.
Please note that if the background template that you chose has a cross-hatch pattern with the Canva logo in the middle, which indicates premium content meaning you will have to pay $1 for it before you can save your graphic.

4. Insert images
You can add images to your design by dragging and dropping it straight into the editor or you can use the search function to search from the vast number of images that Canva has available.

Inserted images offer additional functions when you click on them, which include resize, rotation and cropping. In addition clicking the blue triangle allows you to insert a link, set the transparency and the flip the image.

Images can also be added to your design directly from your Facebook Google Drive account:

5. Add text

Select the Text option to add text content to your poster.  From the menu bar you can select if the text is a heading, subtitle or main body text, in addition to this you have text templates that you can use.

Once the text box has been added to your design, simply click the text in the dotted area to type in the text. Clicking the text box also allows you can amend the font, size, and colour, or delete the box altogether with the trash can icon. Click the arrowhead on the right end of the bar to see more formatting options such as bold, italic, alignment, text spacing and more.

6. Add a description and tag
Once you have finished your poster you can click on the text along the top to describe and tag your poster and then click the Done button.

7. Share your design
You can share your completed design directly from Canva to Facebook or Twitter by clicking on the Share button. Alternatively if you wish to work in collaboration with others so that they can edit your design, tick the Share/email as an editable design option.

Towards the top right you will notice that there is an option to make your design public or private, if set to public other Canva users will be able to search for your design.

8. Save design offline
Click the Download to see the options to save your completed design either as an image or as a high quality PDF. 

When you navigate to back to the Canva homepage you will notice that the design now appears under Your Designs:

9. Improve your creative skills
From the homepage you will notice two additional options Stream and Design School which are a great starting point to get some inspiration and advice on your develop and improve your own design creations.

Stream – Canva introduced this feature in November 2014 allowing users to share and discover designs, which facilitates social media functions such as following, commenting and liking posts.

Design School – I would recommend that you have a look here before starting your first designs as it has some great daily design articles, interactive tutorials and tips to help you with your designs.

Here is my completed poster for the upcoming conference:

Twitter: @SOASBLETech

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